On one side, you have the wizard of woosh, Tony Dorsett.On the other is the king of the cut, that prancing Bear, Walter Payton. Call them both Mr. Touchdown.
Thrown in the pop of the shotgun, the force of the flex, a cocky kid quarterback who once toiled in College Park and a head coach who learned to hate the Cowboys from the master of snarl at Redskin Park and Monday's opening-round NFC game between Dallas and Chicago (2 p.m. EST, WTOP-TV-9) is chock full of day-after-Christmas goodies.
Both teams can move the ball on offense, though the NFL East Division champion Cowboys, 12-2 would appear to have the more balanced attack and a larger arsenal of weapons.
There is Roger Staubach, who overtook the Rams' Pat Haden - thanks mostly to the Redskins - in the final week of the season to become the NFC's league passer. Staubach has a 58 per cent completion average, 18 touchdown tosses and only nine interceptions.
Staubach is an equal opportunity thrower, aiming mostly at big-play wide receiver Drew Pearson, running backs Preston Pearson and Dorsett and tight end Billy Joe DuPree. Those four have caught 151 of Staubach's 210 completions this season.
The Cowboy passing attack became even more effective this season because of Dorsett's presence in the lineup. The little rookie with the big college reputation gained 1,007 yards, even if the didn't become a full-time starter until the Cowboys' ninth game of the regular season.
"He can break for a touchdown on and play," said Cowboy coach Tom Landry, whose team will be in the playoffs for the 11th time in 12 years. "We didn't have that against Los angeles." Last year, the Cowboys fell to the Rams, 14-12, in the opening round.
This year, Dallas is favored by nine points over a Chicago team, 9-5, that won its final six games after a 47-0 humiliation in Houston. The Bears are making their first playoff appearnace since 1963.
Jack Pardee, who once played and coached under George Allen, coaches a Chicago team that has been carried into the playoffs by Payton's two feet and Bob Thomas' one foot, which kicked the game-winning field goal in New York last Sunday.
Payton finished the season with 1,852 yards and a 5.5 per carry average. He also scored 16 touchdowns to lead the NFL, three more than Dorsett.
"Nobody is going to stop him," Landry admitted. "There's pressure on all 11 men."
The Cowboys' chances of containing Payton and former Maryland quarterback Bob Avellini seem far better than the Bears have in bottling up Dallas' multi-formation attack.
The Cowboys finished No. 1 in the NFC in total defense, No. 1 against the rush and No. 2 against the pass. And when these teams, with Efren Herrera a dependable kicker and the NFC's leading scorer. Yet Herrera rarely has been asked to kick under much pressure because most Cowboy games do not go to the wire.
The same cannot be said for Thomas, who blew two short chip shots against the Giants before kicking the game-winning field goal to save Chicago's season, and probably his job.